The challenge of planning an efficient office design and layout can seem like a daunting task. Several key factors must be considered to secure a space that balances utilitarian functionalities with creative interior design.
Whether the purpose of designing a new office layout is for expanding, remodeling, or moving into new office quarters, the process can be exciting, albeit slightly overwhelming. After all, your office design can significantly affect your personal image.
With careful considerations to office space planning, you can create an office space that promotes productivity and innovation in the workplace while attracting and retaining talent with the company.
Here are the key elements you have to consider when designing your new office:
1. Your requirements
First things first, your planning process should define the planning requirements of your new office design. Whether it’s moving to a new space or renovating the current office layout, start by defining the top reasons and goals your business has for a new space. Yes, it takes a lot of time and money to design/redesign your office and the reasons why you are planning to make changes in the design should guide your whole design process.
Some reasons may include office relocation, a merger or acquisition, or it may come down to the simple need to consolidate existing space as your business experiences departmental shifts and new divisions of labor.
Similarly, the main goals to redesign office space may be to increase productivity and efficiency or rebrand the business to modernize it for internal and external audiences, making it easier to attract new talent to the company.
By first understanding the purpose and requirements of a new office layout, you can discover ‘best practices’ and design trends, as well as the right professional interior design company to work with that, speaks to your brand’s personality.
2. The importance of lighting
Lighting, be it your home or your office, is one of the most important aspects in the whole designing process from an interior designer’s perspective. When natural lighting is used in a corporate space, firms can reduce their energy consumption and lower electricity bills. But the use of natural light can have an impact on office productivity and overall health as well. The use of natural light in an office setting has been shown to boost productivity, work satisfaction and mood, and worker health. Natural light, therefore, is beneficial for the overall mood in the office.
As such, when designing your new office layout, consider the importance of natural light. Natural light is vital for productivity and motivation purposes. Take into consideration that office furniture or equipment does not obstruct or block sources of natural light.
Complement natural light with modern lighting technology such as LED lighting solutions to truly create an office space that’s conducive for work.
3. The right colors
Designing a new layout for your office is the perfect time to integrate color schemes to your office setting. Colors are a powerful form of communication. They can evoke certain emotional responses according to the selected color scheme.
Picking a perfect color for your office can be a bit challenging and is a bit different from picking a perfect color combination for your condo. When developing a new layout, use color to its fullest potential. Incorporating the color green through workspaces, for example, has significant implications on office productivity, efficiency, and employee recruitment and retention.
Examine your brand’s style guideline and use colors that work with your company’s branding.
Striking the right balance is key when incorporating color to design elements. Too much color can become overbearing and fatiguing. Similarly, not enough color, or having too much white can hinder the productivity in an office environment.
4. Navigation and space
An effective floor plan will ensure your office layout is functional and serves its utilitarian purpose for fire code safety and evacuation plans. At the same time, fluid navigation can affect collaboration and team engagement.
Managing and utilizing space effectively ensures that your new floor plan can strategically scale with the business as it grows strength to strength.
Special considerations to navigation and space create a task-orientated working environment that enables employees to perform and collaborate better while accommodating growth.
The new office layout should also consider the importance of varying working environments. This includes creating spaces for collaborative work and individual, quiet projects.
5. Turning the workplace into a destination
With virtual offices and remote work on the rise, organizations must create offices that enhance culture and is fully enjoyed by its staff. With office space being a valuable real estate investment, companies must utilize every square inch to create a work environment that’s inviting, inspiring, and comfortable.
Furniture throughout the office should be flexible and multi-functional. Multi-purpose rooms, a working cafe, and lounge spaces give staff a desirable destination that they will fully employ day in and day out. When planning a new office layout, democratize key areas of the office.
This encourages active participation, strategic collaboration, and improved productivity.
Seeing the big picture
The design and layout of your office’s workspace will have a significant impact on productivity, engagement, employee satisfaction, brand impact, and talent recruitment. Careful consideration must be given to planning to create an office layout that’s approachable and strategically designed to be conducive to work.
It’s not possible to take into consideration the individual choices of color, lighting, space etc. Therefore, as a designer, your aim should be creating a design which is acceptable to ‘most’ of the people i.e. any design idea which is generally acceptable.
Of course, you can use your skills and knowledge as a designer to come up with something brilliant, but you should remember that the office will be used by regular people and every individual is going to have a different taste and preference. A general approach, therefore, is the best way to go.
CEO at Interact Group LLC
Interact Group is a design-led interior fit-out company that aims to set new standards in the UAE interiors market. Driven by their dedication to total customer experience, the company’s mission is to bring truly specialized teams to complex design and fit out challenges, utilizing their unmatched ability to deliver spaces efficiently and above expectation.
What the Popularization of Remote Work Means for Business Owners
The business world is ever-changing, but the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has put those change processes into overdrive. And perhaps the most significant of those changes is the dramatic surge in remote work.
While the virtual office did not begin with the pandemic, the outbreak has certainly contributed to the increased popularity of remote work. This increasing popularity is due not only to health considerations but also to the convenience and cost-savings that these new work-from-home warriors have discovered in the remote working environment. But what does the popularization of remote work mean for business owners?
Creating a healthy and productive remote work environment means that you can’t just go about business as usual. Literally. The old formulae for keeping the physical office humming with happy and high-performing workers generally won’t translate to the virtual office.
Your remote workers are likely going to need greater flexibility than they would have required in the traditional office, particularly since they’re also going to be contending with distractions they wouldn’t face on campus. Even employees who have their own dedicated home office may still require more frequent breaks or a more flexible shift to take care of other home responsibilities, from helping the kids with their schoolwork to making sure elderly parents have their meals and medication.
Additionally, your remote employees are likely to need your support in maintaining a proper work-life balance, because the remote office can easily lead employees to feel pressured to always be working. And, without your emphasizing your employees’ well-being while also modeling your own self-care, then you’re inevitably creating the conditions for burnout, low productivity, decreased job satisfaction, and attrition in your workforce.
Chances are, many, if not most, of your employees may be new to the remote work environment. So that means they will need not only your flexibility but also your support, both professional and emotional.
From a professional standpoint, employees may need training to enable them to learn to use any new remote work technologies. They will also likely need clarification on what is expected of them in this new work environment, including whether they are expected to adhere to their regular work shift or if they are required to attend daily video conferences.
Professional support also means that you should be expected to provide your employees with whatever they may need to work productively from home. This could include anything from reimbursing employees for their home office furniture and equipment to comping their internet, cell, and landline costs.
However, your responsibility to support your employees extends beyond their specific work duties. You also need to be a source of emotional support, as remote work can be challenging for some employees, who may experience loneliness, depression, or anxiety when working from home. Because of this, you should be prepared to support your remote employees’ physical and mental well-being through a range of practices, from offering mental health coverages to providing employees with ample opportunities to connect with one another, both online and in person.
It’s not only your employees who will need clarity as they engage in remote work. As a business owner, you will also need to have clarity in your remote work processes. One of the first and most important issues that you will need to clarify is the exact employment status of your workers. For example, full employees will entail different rights and responsibilities than do independent contractors.
So for legal, regulatory, and tax purposes, it’s imperative to define the status of your remote workers and to reflect that status in a written contract that you and your workers sign before you transition established employees to the virtual office or you onboard new hires for remote work.
The popularization of remote work has significantly changed the way business owners today operate. This includes the need to offer employees greater flexibility and support than ever before. At the same time, it involves the necessity for operational clarity, including clearly defining the status of remote workers.
Looking to Make a Career Change? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
Are you stuck in a career that feels like the wrong fit? Whether you aren’t excelling as quickly as you’d hoped or feel a sense of dread at the thought of heading to work each morning, landing in a career rut is far from uncommon—in fact, more than half of all Americans report being unhappy with their jobs.
There are a variety of reasons for wanting to make a career change. Our interests, goals and priorities change and shift over time, and it’s possible that the dream role you took five or ten years ago simply isn’t the best match anymore. Or, maybe it was never the right match and you’re finally ready to do something about it. Whatever the reason may be, making a career pivot is entirely achievable. With the right strategies and a solid action plan, you can align yourself with a new career vision that’s more suited to your interests and values.
To help you sort through the mental clutter and get realistic about the type of roles that you should pursue, there are a few helpful questions you can ask yourself.
1. What have you learned from your past jobs?
While you may feel like you wasted a lot of time in roles you didn’t love, don’t be so quick to write off the time you put in—there’s a lot of value in the experience even if you didn’t enjoy it. Why? Because it gives you insight into understanding what you don’t want in a job.
Take some time to carefully evaluate your past or current positions. Make a list of pros and cons, and get specific. You might list things specific to the duties you were responsible for, the company culture, the physical office environment, what your work hours were like, pay, etc.—the sky’s the limit. Figure out what it is about each item on your list that you liked or disliked, and use it to guide you towards a role that aligns with what you know you do and don’t enjoy or value.
2. What job would you do for free?
This question helps you think about your career in the context of what you genuinely enjoy doing. Ask yourself: if money were no object, what job would you choose? While salary is certainly an important factor in determining the right career, it can be easy to let that factor alone determine the types of jobs we pursue. This question is great to get you thinking creatively about different jobs that truly excite you and can get you headed in the right direction.
3. What makes you happy?
While this might seem like an obvious question, you’d be surprised how often it gets thrown out the window when it comes to a career. Take the time to self reflect and get honest with yourself: what truly makes you feel content?
What fuels you, motivates you, or gives you purpose? Can you think of the times in life you’ve been the happiest? What were you doing? Who were you with? Thinking deeply and critically about these types of questions offers valuable insight into the types of positions that can complement your life and fuel your passions.
Making a career change can feel daunting, or even impossible. But the first step is simply believing it’s possible. Take care to remind yourself that there’s truly no shortage of job opportunities out there, and there’s nothing stopping you from finding one. With a commitment to yourself and a plan of action, making the switch to a more fulfilling career well within reach!
Is a startup accelerator program a good choice for me?
Absolutely! If accepted into the right program, there is no better way for an early-stage startup to scale and find the best investors. But you may wonder how to go about it. Since 2005, accelerator programs have become a trend in the investment sector. Globally, there are close to 200 active startup accelerators today. In this sea, how to choose the right fit? Let’s begin with the basics.
Startup accelerators are intensive mentorship programs. They help startups crunch 3-5 years of the growth process into 3 – 6 months. Yes. You heard that right. This is why they are called ‘Accelerators’. Most of them provide a seed fund of $10K – $25K in exchange for 0 – 10% equity in graduating startups. But accelerator programs are best known for their ‘Demo Day’, the final day at the end of the program when startups pitch their accelerated, scaled-up pitch decks to potential investors. That is the moment of truth. Apart from these, there are upcoming programs that offer a longer engagement.
Broadly, based on their operating structure, startup accelerators are of three types:
- Venture funded: These are driven by Venture Capitalists with the sole aim of profits. They look for quick and massive ROI over a short period. The startups they choose to fund must show a promise of higher returns over a 3-5 yr period when compared to regular investment instruments.
- Government funded: These accelerators have a broader goal beyond short-term profits. They nurture startups with a potential for the greater good such as job creation, reviving local economies, creating applications for government projects, staying ahead in the global competition for tech innovations, and the likes.
- Corporate funded: Corporate-sponsored startup accelerators nurture new ideas usually to further their business vision. For example, giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook run accelerator programs to support innovations. If it fits, they might end up acquiring some of them.
Beyond these, startup accelerator programs have defined goals. Their operating industry, funding structure, mentor network, skill development programs, course duration, on-site requirements, investor network, alumni support, and geographies are well defined. So make sure you thoroughly research various accelerator programs before choosing the right one.
This is where the accelerator story began. In 2005, Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, and Trevor Blackwell founded a 12-week on-site program for early-stage startups. Their flagship program based in Mountain View, California accepts two batches a year focusing on finance, impact investing, and virtual currency industries. They have a special focus on black/African, American-led, and women-founded startups.
Over the years, Y Combinator has diversified its accelerator programs to suit various geographies. They excel not only in their on-site curriculum but alumni support as well. Startups graduating out of Y Combinator become part of an elite network of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts. Y Combinator also runs an online Startup school that is accessible from anywhere in the world. As of 2019, they have made 4000 odd investments valued close to the US $155B. Today, Y Combinator is the most successful startup accelerator program in the world.
Startup accelerators provide the best growth opportunities. Besides the mentorship, networking, and the basic seed fund, they do not promise success but the best shot at it. Here are some of the opportunities you can expect from a startup accelerator:
- One-on-one meetings with industry experts and mentors
- Cohort-based co-working opportunities with fellow founders
- Progress monitoring and evaluation
- Capacity building of the Startup business process
- Possible connections with early adopters and channel partners
- Focused, goal-driven work culture
- Cross-learning and problem solving
- Experiential learning
- Access to potential investors on demo day, extended network
As an idea, accelerator programs are great. But if you are not ready for the fast ride, these programs can set you back massively. Time is the most precious resource in a startup journey. Before committing to an accelerator program that usually demands the presence of at least one founder and the core team for the entire duration of the course, it is best to analyze all aspects of it. Here are some of them:
Benefits of startup accelerators:
- Focused training to raise funds from top investors in the industry
- Assured seed fund at graduation
- The startup journey can be lonely. Accelerator programs create cohorts for founders across various industries to brainstorm and learn from each other
- Build strong relationships with mentors, industry experts, and alumni
- Social validation. Graduating from top startup accelerator programs lends a unique identity to new startups in the market. Investors tend to rely more on their capabilities compared to other companies trying to make it on their own.
Problems of Startup Accelerators:
- Demands 100% presence. This is a non-negotiable term with most startup accelerators.
- Demanding schedules. Accelerator programs run on tight schedules. They facilitate ‘learn on the go’. So there is learning and immediate application.
- Equity dilution. Every accelerator demands equity in exchange for its services and a basic seed fund. A dilution at the seed stage will only magnify the possibilities of higher dilution in the subsequent funding rounds.
- Relocation. Most accelerator programs are on-site. The core startup team has to relocate to the accelerator location and live around the premises for 2 – 3 months.
Thus there are many aspects to a startup accelerator program. If approached with sufficient preparation, the pros might outweigh the cons. As a startup founder, you cannot deny the gravity and timing of investments. Startup accelerators provide access to just that and much more. Then how should you approach this? What is the right time to consider an accelerator program?
When you are ready. As a founder, make sure to ask yourself if you and the company are ready for an accelerator program. It is a myth that an accelerator guarantees success. As if it was a formula to become a unicorn overnight. In fact, it is the other way round. Accelerators need you to be at your best. Else it is a wasted opportunity. These programs are highly competitive with an acceptance rate of 1 – 3% only. So make sure you make the best of it. Here are some pointers to determine your ‘readiness’ for an accelerator program. You are ready when:
- Startup has reached the early-seed or seed stage
- Startup has a co-founder
- Startup has an MVP
- Startup has sufficient market research data to establish the viability of the prototype
- Startup has a business plan
- Startup ready for a growth spurt
- Startup has a core team of experts who can learn and deliver under high pressure, portray leadership skills
- Startup team can commit 100% time to the accelerator program beyond managing the company on a day-to-day basis
- Startup ready to part with 5 – 10% equity in exchange for the deliverables of the accelerator program
- Startup ready to part with an additional 10 – 20% equity for the seed round on Demo Day
- Startup core team ready to relocate to accelerator site
- Startup has all legal documents in place
- Startup has a minimal error process to update and maintain cap tables
Once you have checked all these boxes, you can rest assured that an accelerator program will work in your favor. But this is only one side of the story. What about the merit of an accelerator program? If you have worked so hard to create a credible company, shouldn’t you check the potential of the ones choosing you? Will they do justice to your time and efforts? Here is how you can approach this situation.
- Do a thorough background check of the accelerator program. Check with their alumni and market feedback
- Do their goals align with your company? With 5 – 10% equity they will become your shareholder. Ensure you are allowing management access to the right people
- Check their curriculum. It should include courses that strengthen your fundamentals in startup operations such as legal, business model, finance model, equity management, due diligence, and the likes
- Check how they monitor progress and performance. Do these metrics suit your business?
- Visit their premises and check facilities
- Verify their engagement levels. Ensure their goals are pragmatic
- Verify mentor profiles. Ensure they are seasoned entrepreneurs with real industry experience
- Verify investor network. Research their Demo Days. Who participates? What is their credibility? Transparency in financial transactions, etc.
- What happens after you pass out of the program? How is the alumni support?
There are more than 100 startup accelerators and the number keeps growing by the day. To get you started, we have compiled a list of the top 10 based on the amount of seed capital raised:
Duration: 3 months
Headquarter: Mountain View, California
Companies launched: 1801
Seed fund: $39,839,695,289
Track record: 4000+ investments, 354 exits
Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise, Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, Reddit
Duration: 3 months
Headquarter: Boulder, Colorado
Companies launched: 1336
Seed fund: $8,664,791,204
Track record: 3,300+ investments, 310 exits
Top brands: Bench, Digital Ocean, FullContact, SendGrid, and Zagster
Duration: 4 months
Headquarter: San Francisco, California
Companies launched: 686
Seed fund: $3,195,638,016
Track record: 2,600+ investments, 288 exits
Top brands: Twilio, Credit Karma, SendGrid, Grab, GitLab, Bukalapak, Canva, Udemy, TalkDesk, Intercom, Ipsy, MakerBot, Wildfire, and Viki
Duration: 3 months
Headquarter: San Francisco, California
Companies launched: 153
Seed fund: $2,234,261,983
Track record: 175+ investments, 36 exits
Buffer, CoverHound, MoPub, Postmates, Astrid, Drone Deploy, Ribbon, Pipedrive, Rolepoint, and Vungle.
Duration: Customized to suit shortlisted candidates
Headquarter: Shoreditch, London
Companies launched: 118
Seed fund: $1,124,789,400
Track record: 400+ investments, 43 exits
Top brands: UiPath, TransferWise, Revolut, Hopin, Wefox, Grover, Viz.ai, Sorare, and Trestle
Duration: 6 months
Headquarter: San Francisco, California
Companies launched: 344
Seed fund: $1,036,045,522
Track record: 540+ investments, 37 exits
Top brands: LaunchDarkly, Rigetti Quantum Computing, mPharma, Matternet, and Mightyhive
Duration: In 4 phases, distributed over a year
Headquarter: Greater New York Area, East Coast, and Northeastern US
Companies launched: 197
Seed fund: $1,032,491,096
Track record: 370+ investments, 38 exits
Top brands: LevelUp, Trendkite, SeatGeek, HouseParty, Adaptly, Wellth, Biomeme, Tissue Analytics, Redox, Eko Devices, Raxar, Cylera, and Elevate
Duration: 4 months
Headquarter: Venice, California
Companies launched: 36
Seed fund: $689,256,760
Track record: 140+ investments, 17 exits
Top brands: Tapcart, Candid Wholesale, Carpay, Lantern, Abstract, Strike Graph, Return logic, Good fair, Stack Commerce, RadPad, Bitium, Mover, and Mapsense.
Duration: Phased over 1 yr
Headquarter: Santa Monica, California
Companies launched: 27
Seed fund: $628,025,626
Track record: 9 investments, 3 diversity investments
Top brands: Alcatraz, Artful, Bambee, BloomNation, Butter, Citruslabs, Cloverleaf, Emailage, GoFor, Hologram, Honey, Leaselock, Papaya, ShipHawk, TrunkClub, and Workfast.
Duration: 4 months
Companies launched: 69
Seed fund: $596,485,083
Track record: 94 investments, 13 exits
Top brands: Sonder, Transit, Mejuri, Bus.com, Unsplash, XpertSea, LoginRadius, BenchSci, and Ready Education
Since the launch of Y Combinator in 2005, startup accelerators have become a trend. To nurture and launch startups for a small percentage of ownership in their companies has become a profitable investment strategy. They promise higher returns when compared to traditional investment instruments. Hosting a startup accelerator program and graduating out of one is a symbol of market leadership today. As a startup founder make sure to weigh all the pros and cons before embarking on this journey.
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